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The Long-Awaited Video-Centric Collaboration Boom: Why This Time it Really is Different (Part 2 of 3)

July 17, 2010 - 1 Comment

In part one of my three-part series I discussed the growing ubiquity of unified communications and collaboration as the first of four major growth drivers for the long-awaited video-centric collaboration boom. In this post I will discuss the next two growth drivers: The Increasing Role of Service Providers in Video Delivery and Changing User Habits and Expectations:

2) The Increasing Role of Service Providers in Video Delivery

Up until recently, the role of Service Providers has been primarily hosting bridging services or other managed services for mainly internal use of video within the organization.

With business to business (B2B) video and telepresence becoming a hot topic we are seeing more partnerships with vendors and service providers to provide not only managed services, but also B2B communications between different QoS-enabled networks, such as MPLS. The wrinkles in the story are being ironed out with universal call control schemes like ENUM, cross-billing among carriers and clearinghouses to name a few. I believe we will see tremendous activity in this space as we work out the kinks in multi-screen, multi-vendor interoperability. Another area that I believe will see tremendous growth is the Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) space. Companies with less than 100 employees constitute 99.3% of the businesses out there globally, and employ over 90% of the global work force. However, the barriers for entry to video have traditionally been prohibitively high, especially due to the cost of the infrastructure. Think about it, for over 200 endpoints, the cost of infrastructure per endpoint is in the low hundreds of dollars, but for 3 endpoints, it is higher than $10,000 per endpoint.

I believe that going forward we will see innovative business models to video-enable the SMB space. In fact, at VoiceCon 2010  in March, Callway, the first of its kind subscription service for the SMB space was announced.

The model is just like buying a cell phone; you select your equipment, select a plan and simply plug it in. It’s already pre-configured with a local  telephone number and you can call anyone inside or out of your organization on video or audio-only.

3) Changing User Habits and Expectations

Believe it or not, after years of speculation, HD communication for the consumer is finally here. I am of course talking about HD video; not on the PC, but on the high definition television that has the most prized living room center spot. At the CES show in Las Vegas earlier this year, there were a couple of announcements around Home telepresence. The idea here is that HD video-centric collaboration is something that will be in our homes, built into the way we live and communicate with others. I believe this will carry itself over to our place of work: the office, the bank, the hospital – you name it.

A secondary piece of this is the expectations of a new group of workers joining the work force. Call them Gen Y, call them Digital Natives; these are the folks born after 1982 who do not know a world without the internet. They expect to have the tools they are accustomed to during their studies. They want IM, mobility, audio, video and whatever is convenient as a collaboration tool. But most of all, they expect choice. A very good case in point is Google’s IT policy around choice. In order to attract the best talent of the incoming workforce, organizations are increasingly finding themselves having to offer the vast choice of communication tools to the enterprise users and video is proving to be one of the most prominent of those “choices.”

Check back next week for my third, and final, installment of The Long-Awaited Video-Centric Collaboration Boom: Why This Time it Really is Different, where I will discuss the importance of establishing video as the new voice.

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  1. I would be interested to know how Cisco plans to tackle the consumer market. Skype is making all sorts partnerships with various TV makers. We all know Skype is not the answer to video communication.